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Digital Strategy for Aotearoa

Earlier this week, the government launched the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa and its first Action Plan. The adoption of digital technologies has contributed significantly to the country’s economic growth and the government is emphasising how these technologies can strengthen economic resilience and help communities stay connected.

According to the Digital Economy and Communications Minister, David Clark, the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa represents the government’s commitment to helping the country reach its full potential in the digital age. It will be New Zealand’s roadmap as it navigates an increasingly digital world, he said.

The strategy aims to create momentum for achieving higher value jobs, globally successful businesses that are sustainable, and exports that have a lower emissions footprint. It sets targets to have fewer cyber incidents than comparable countries, high-speed internet for all, and to have the digital and ICT sector on track to becoming the country’s leading export earner. It consists of three pillars: Trust, Inclusion, and Growth.

Trust

The government’s goals for this pillar are that New Zealanders feel safe and empowered in online environments. It wants organisations to design and use digital technologies and data in fair, culturally appropriate and trustworthy ways. It is also crucial that digital and data infrastructures are fit-for-purpose and secure. To this end, the strategy sets ambitious measures, including that the economic impacts of cyber-incidents in New Zealand are lower than in comparable nations.

Further, the government will launch a suite of initiatives to boost trust, including additional support for the Algorithm Charter for New Zealand, and work to advance the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework.

Inclusion

The digital world has a profound effect on daily life, and digital inclusion can open new ways to live with independence and dignity, Clark noted. The government believes New Zealanders should have the tools, skills, and confidence to participate in an increasingly digital society. He said that the government will reform the welfare system, spending $5.5 billion on a Families Package benefiting 330,000 families. It has achieved two out of three of the first three-year child poverty targets.

Digital infrastructure, content, and services also need to meet the diverse requirements of people. Clark claimed the government is focused on seizing opportunities to improve motivation, access, skills, and trust – four key elements that are crucial for digital inclusion.

The government has also made significant investments in improving connectivity for rural and remote communities, which has put the country on a strong path to achieving one of its success measures – that all New Zealanders have access to high-speed internet.

Growth

This part of the strategy docks into the Economic Strategy and Emissions Reduction Plan. There is mutual enforcement here, Clark stated. Digital and data-driven technologies are offering opportunities to innovate and boost productivity in all sectors of the economy. The goals for this pillar are that businesses and organisations innovate and increase productivity using digital technologies and data. “The measures of success we’ve set for ourselves are stretch objectives. For instance, I want to see digital and ICT exports on track to becoming New Zealand’s leading export earner,” Clark added.

The government aims to nurture talent and build a strong and diverse talent pipeline, including supporting citizens to pursue careers and business opportunities in the technology sector. The Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) will be an important lever for advancing this part of the strategy. The ITP includes a Digital Skills and Talent Plan that sets the path for scaling up and transforming the skills, training, and education pathways the country needs for the flourishing digital tech industry.

The digital technologies sector can contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth. Between 2015 and 2020, the sector grew 77% faster than the overall economy. In 2020 alone, it contributed US$7.4 billion to the economy.

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